Photo Report – Life at Lučko, June 2014

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

With summer plowing onwards in good stead – and without any major meteorological disruptions so far – life at Lučko Airfield has pretty much continued unabated since my last post on the subject some two weeks ago 🙂 . Granted, the volume of traffic is outright appalling compared to the “golden years” of the last decade – but on the whole, things are still moving in vaguely the right direction 🙂 . And while we haven’t had much in the way of brand new or foreign visitors, I nevertheless did not end up short for a few interesting photo opportunities…

Another interesting resident of the Croatian civil register on a repeat visit to the field. Cessna’s sole purpose-built agricultural aircraft, the model 188 together with the Piper Pawnee and the Air Tractor constitutes the Big Three of the crop dusting world, and had proven itself most of all in the backwoods of Australia and New Zealand. BKP itself has however led a more sedate life, spending its entire existence hopping about eastern Croatia. Manufactured in 1977, it was part of a large batch of various Cessna models bought by the Yugoslav government in the late 70s, and has up until this point flown under only two other regs: N731GB during delivery, and YU-BKP until the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991…

An (internationally common) transport solution that has surely raised a few eyebrows on Croatian roads. More commonly of the closed box type, a trailer such as this is used to transport gliders to and from gliding sites – and was on this occasion used to move this fine Pirat from its home base at Buševec Airfield (LDZB, now closed indefinitely) to Lučko for an extended period of time.

Profiles that only Mother Mil could love – but which nevertheless clearly show the family connection shared by these two renowned designs. Another visitor from Divulje AB, 204 had flown only a few circuits today – but the “bambi bucket” located by one the helicopter start gates suggests that some firefighting training was also on the menu at some point…

A big rotor, two powerful engines and freshly mowed grass is all you need to show just how turbulent (and interesting) the flow of air and exhaust around a helicopter is…

The mighty heart of Cessna’s most sophisticated and capable single-engine model. It’s full name dragging out to “Continental TSIO-540-AF”, this engine is equipped with a turbocharger (TS – turbosupercharged) and direct injection (I – injected), while its six cylinders are arranged in a boxer pattern (O – opposed) and together give a cubic capacity of 540 cubic inches (8.8 liters). In this sub-version (AF) it produces 310 HP, while the design itself is capable of putting out anything between 260 and 375 HP.

The simple, uncluttered – and amazingly roomy – cockpit of the HB-21 motorglider. Featured here for the first time in my previous post, the HB-21 is an unusual pusher prop design, powered by a 2.4 liter Porsche/VW engine developing 100 HP. Light as a feather and with a wingspan that covers several post codes, the HB-21 has demonstrated an ability to tow gliders on par with that of the Super Cub – the very reason it was bought and brought to Croatia in the first place.

Photo Report – Lučko News in Photos

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Having finally caught some breathing space in between the flying and studying – and the abundant paperwork and pleasant conversations with government officials that inevitably go with them – I decided to finally venture out of my +35 Centigrade room and treat myself to a spot of well-deserved aviation photography :). Being mostly “in transit” at Lučko during the past few weeks – either in planning, briefing, debriefing or running to my car to turn on the aircon after a flight in the scalding hot Seminole 😀 – I had never taken the time to notice that the aircraft population at Lučko had increased substantially, and was sitting idly around, unphotographed. So, keen to set that right, I packed up the camera – along with half a dozen liters of water – and set to work! 😀

First up is a very interesting transient visitor, in town for some maintenance. When I saw it in my university's hangar undergoing some minor work, I must admit I briefly hoped that our air wing had diversified, but was disappointed soon afterwards :D. One of the preciously few Cessna 188s in Croatia, 9A-BKP - an A188B AgTruck - hails from Daruvar in the country's eastern agriculture-rich flatlands

Mean and substantial, the 188 represents Cessna's only venture into the agricultural market (apart from an interesting crop-spraying 185 conversion). Lacking a unified type name, various 188 versions bore the AgWagon, AgPickup, AgHusky and AgTruck names, with the A188B AgTruck being the last and most powerful normally-aspirated model

Designed to haul. Built in the 60s using extensive inputs from ag pilots and operators, the 188 embodies all the characteristics of a proper cropsprayer: a big, thick low speed wing, massive flaps, a high, crash-resistant cockpit - and every component made big and chunky, just in case 😀

Interestingly, despite its substantial appearance, the 188 is quite light: only 980 kg empty when equipped with a dispersal systems. Even with a 1060 liter hopper tank aboard, the MTOW in the restricted category never climbs above 1800 kg (with 1450 being normal) - which, with 300 HP up front, probably makes for some spirited flying 😀

More potent than the standard Piper Pawnee and more manageable than the Air Tractor, the 188 was a significant sales success with close to 4000 sold, but oddly enough few remain flying today (especially in Europe). With production having ended in 1983, they've been slowly phased out of their primary role, while their big, all-metal bulk and thirsty engine do not lend them well to secondary roles such as glider towing, where the simpler, cheaper Pawnee still enjoys a lot of success

Next up is something much fairer and rarer: the Glaser-Dirks DG-200 single-seat glider :). Produced in only 190-ish examples, the 15-meter DG-200 is nevertheless a capable glider - with a glide ratio of 1/42 - equipped with both flaps and water ballast tanks. As is common on European gliders, its flight instruments are metric, which requires some quick mental calculation when dealing with ATC 🙂

Assembly after transport - the most fun you can have short of actually flying :D. Of classic layout for single-seat higher-performing gliders, the DG-200 cockpit is clean and well laid out, covered by a practical one-piece canopy. Getting in though can be a bit of a palaver if your gymnastic skills are not up to scratch 😀

More equipment means more handles :). Apart from the stick (and its wheel brake trigger) in the foreground, you have the yellow towrope release handle, the blue spoiler and the black flaps selector. Out of shot is the gear retraction handle, while on the opposite side are the water ballast tank valves and the emergency canopy release - and all without a bit of electricity 🙂

And finally, an artsy view of our latest resident, 9A-JSA. Behind the unusual custom registration is a stock - but freshly repainted - 172N operated by a new company called JungSky and flown by a former member of our aeroclub and a current Fokker 100 captain 🙂